Viet Nam News
LÂM ĐỒNG – The Highlands city of Đà Lạt – often referred to as “the city of thousand flowers” – is well into its busiest days of the year, harvesting flowers for the upcoming Tết holiday. However, flower growers are in a jam due to a lack of workers, despite the steep payment promised.
According to Dân Trí newspaper, at the city’s flower gardens, male workers can be paid as high as VNĐ1 million (US$44.3) for a day’s work – which usually lasts from early morning to around 10pm, while a female worker receives a little less – some VNĐ800,000 ($35.4).
To put it into perspective, while the latest figure for the year 2016 has not been released, in 2015, the Vietnamese GDP per capita was at VNĐ45.7 million, or $2,100, according to the General Statistics Office.
However, it seems this supposedly "dream" payment for a manual labour job is still not enough to make workers stay.
According to garden owners, the majority of workers-for-hire at Đà Lạt come from the central provinces of Thanh Hoá, Nghệ An, Thừa Thiên-Huế and Quảng Nam. Usually 10 days prior to Tết (Lunar New Year), they board the coach back home.
Owners have little choice but to call on family members and relatives to assist in harvesting and packaging to meet purchasing agents’ demands.
Nguyễn Thị Lan, a garden owner on Nguyên Tử Lực Street, Ward No 8, said the whole family is snowed under. Near Tết, the demand for flowers increases, but workers just work for a few days, then leave for home. Her children, one in grade seven and the other in grade 10, are tapped to help with the packaging, partly easing their parents’ workload.
“Coffee’s already harvested so I have some free time. A relative recommended that I go work for a flower garden at Ward No 8 in the city, so my wife and I came here to work from Lâm Hà District. We’ve worked here for a few days,” Nguyễn Thế, 38, said.
“During these days, the garden owners pay us handsomely, much higher than normal days, our accommodation is also cared for. We will earn some extra money for Tết.”
Hồ Ngọc Dinh, chairman of Ward No 12 Farmers’ Association, said his ward is the largest supplier of chrysanthemums in the province.
To secure enough labourers close to the Tết period, about a month ago (beginning of the last month of the lunar calendar), many garden owners contacted workers and paid advances, Dinh said.
Some 6-10 days prior to Tết, the payment for workers is some VNĐ800,000 per day, while 3-5 days before Tết¸ payment can reach VNĐ1 million.
Although garden owners face some trouble while hiring workers, this year, however, the prices of flowers have increased two to three times compared with normal days, so even high payment for workers doesn’t shave much off of garden owners’ income. – VNS